old expression that has served me well over the years: “When your
values are clear, decisions come easy.”
When I think of that expression, I think of Tony Dungy, a man who left
while he was on top of his profession. He coached the Baltimore Colts
to the Super Bowl in 2008, where his team defeated the Chicago Bears
to win Super Bowl XLI.
After winning it all, Dungy stepped away from the game when he was
literally the best of his profession. Some coaches and athletes stay
too long; they are either forced out or ushered out. Not Tony Dungy.
He left on his terms.
But, more importantly, Dungy’s values were clear so that decision came
easy. Today he is best known for his favorite “fatherhood” program
All-Pro Dads, a group for which he now acts as a national
All-Pro Dads is a simple idea with a profound impact that can really
strengthen a father’s relationship with his children. Mark Merrill
launched the program in 1997 with the help of Tony Dungy in Tampa,
A group of over 50 NFL players, coaches, and alumni as well as outside
speakers like yours truly speak at monthly meetings on the importance
of being a good father.
There are over a thousand “All-Pro Dads Day” chapters located in every
state and nearly a dozen countries, based primarily in schools.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to the Michigan Avenue
Elementary School chapter of All-Pro Dads. I’ve addressed nearly 3,000
audiences in my 40 years in the speaking profession, ranging from
40,000 people in the Super Dome to a meeting of four CEO’s. This was
one of the most challenging presentations for which I had to prepare.
There were two reasons I was intimidated. First, you’re speaking to
kids as young as kindergarten level so you have to simplify your
comments so that a five year old can follow it. Secondly, my two
beautiful granddaughters Ava (5) and Ashley (7) go to Michigan Avenue
Elementary. I thought they’d be excited to see that Jiddo (Arabic for
grandfather) would be speaking. NOT! “You’re going to embarrass us
being up there, said Ava.”
Because of a 103 degree temperature, Ava missed the engagement totally
as she was camped out in my bed at home with grandma. Because she was
sick, it slowed Ashley from being on time for the breakfast; so she
missed most of the gig as well. It was just as well. I think I would
have been intimidated to have them there hiding with embarrassment
under the tables of the cafeteria.
All-Pro Dads teaches basic premises about how fathers can be better
fathers. I decided to reverse the process and build my presentation
around a theme of how to be an “All-Pro Kid,” using the concepts the
organization espouses, but reversing them.
Some of my tips included teach your dad how to hug. I gave them a half
dozen picture examples of everything from the one arm hug to the six
arm hug (my son Cory hugging Ashley and Ava and a group hug format.).
A second tip was to give a variety of ways to tell dad that you love
them (because daddies aren’t too smart about this and sometimes take
it for granted).
Some practical tips included teach your daddy how to swim, fish and
how to ride a bike. Fathers need to be re-taught some of these things
because it’s been a while since they did some of them.
A great tip was to read to daddy at night and then tuck him in with a
nice kiss. Sometimes, when dad needs love the most is when he gets it
the least. Your love is critical to him.
Another tip, eat with the family and no texting or phones at the
dinner table. Learn to pray with dad and help teach daddy to love
mommy. That after all, is the greatest gift he can give to you. Being
an All-Pro Dads means being an All-Pro Kid.
“Learn to wrestle with daddy,” was another tip. “Give him big smack
attacks (where you lay all over daddy and shower him with kisses).”
Sometimes daddies are shy and need to be shown how to play. Tickle
attacks on dad work nicely.
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Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for
this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at